Below The Beltway

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Are We Fighting World War III ?

by @ 12:01 pm on July 17, 2006. Filed under Newt Gingrich, War On Terror

Newt Gingrich certainly seems to think so:

Gingrich said in the coming days he plans to speak out publicly, and to the Administration, about the need to recognize that America is in World War III.

He lists wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, this week’s bomb attacks in India, North Korean nuclear threats, terrorist arrests and investigations in Florida, Canada and Britain, and violence in Israel and Lebanon as evidence of World War III. He said Bush needs to deliver a speech to Congress and “connect all the dots” for Americans.

He said the reluctance to put those pieces together and see one global conflict is hurting America’s interests. He said people, including some in the Bush Administration, who urge a restrained response from Israel are wrong “because they haven’t crossed the bridge of realizing this is a war.”

Gingrich is not the first person to make this type of argument. Back in September 2004, Norman Podhoretz wrote in Commentary that we are actually fighting World War IV . World War III, in case you were wondering, was the Cold War that lasted from the end of World War II until the fall of the Soviet Union.

Gingrich goes on to argue that, the Bush Administration’s failure to treat the War on Terror as the global war that it really is has an impact on the American public’s support for aspects of that war, whether it be the Iraq War, or public perception of Israelis military actions against Hezbollah and Hamas.

“This is World War III,” Gingrich said. And once that’s accepted, he said calls for restraint would fall away:

“Israel wouldn’t leave southern Lebanon as long as there was a single missile there. I would go in and clean them all out and I would announce that any Iranian airplane trying to bring missiles to re-supply them would be shot down. This idea that we have this one-sided war where the other team gets to plan how to kill us and we get to talk, is nuts.”

There is a public relations value, too. Gingrich said that public opinion can change “the minute you use the language” of World War III. The message then, he said, is “‘OK, if we’re in the third world war, which side do you think should win?”

Gingrich’s argument is similar to the issues I discussed in this post about how the Bush Administration has failed to get the American public involved in any significant way in the War on Terror

I remember in the days and months after September 11th, President Bush and the Administration said that the one thing American?s could do to help in the War on Terror was get on with the lives as they were before September 11th, and to buy stuff. This isn?t the way you motivate a population to support a struggle that, even then, they admitted would last a long time. Democracies tend to lose the will to fight after time passes to begin with, to not even try to rally people around the war effort from the beginning was, I think, a huge mistake.

The other mistake that the Bush Administration made, I think, is in failing to acknowledge that the War on Terror was, in fact, a war against a specific ideology — call it Radical Islam, Islamofascism, or whatever — that holds a world view entirely antithetical to our own and which seeks to destroy the things that Western Civilization holds dear, such as human freedom.

Gingrich seems to argue that public support for the War on Terror would change if the Bush Administration started using different rhetoric. I think that too much time may have passed for the rhetoric of war to have the impact that Gingrich thinks it will. In the days after 9/11, it might have been a different story.

H/T: Outside The Beltway

2 Responses to “Are We Fighting World War III ?”

  1. [...] Makes you wonder if that whole World War III argument might not just be correct.   [link] [...]

  2. [...] I’ve written before (here and here) that the Bush Administration made a big mistake in not getting the American public more directly invested in the War on Terror after September 11th. The point Podhoretz makes is broader, and more serious, because it effectively asks the question — do we have the will to fight: Are we becoming unwitting participants in their victory and our defeat? Can it be that the moral greatness of our civilization – its astonishing focus on the value of the individual above all – is endangering the future of our civilization as well? [...]

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